Are your kids experiencing cough, runny nose, fever, and sore throat? What are we to do as concerned parents who want to relieve these symptoms right away? Who can blame us if we resort to those that are easily available and claim instant resolution of symptoms? Some pediatricians are not available all the time, so this definitely becomes a problem. We now discuss the possible harm over-the-counter medicines for children bring.
Over-the-counter medicines are medications that you can buy for your child without a prescription from your doctor. Among all the types, those for cough and cold are the most commonly bought (and abused!) but some other types also include anti-histamine or anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory or pain killer medicines.
In this article, we focus mostly on cough and cold medicines which can help relieve common cold symptoms such as cough, stuffy or runny nose, fever, body aches, and sore throat. However, even though you can buy these with ease, it doesn’t mean that they are not harmful.
When used as directed by the pediatrician, these cough and cold medicines will usually be safe for children and may help relieve symptoms without adverse affects. Note that you should never give these medicines to children younger than 4 years old without consulting a physician first. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration are against the use of these OTC’s in children less than 2 years of age.
Why don’t they recommend the use of these over-the-counter medicines for children? All medicines have adverse effects. This is a fact. However, given properly, over-the-counter medicines may just do the job without doing harm. Another reason? Doctors know how to determine the correct dose of a certain medicine, based on a child’s weight and based on the available preparations today. A three kilogram infant may require only a few drops while a 30 kilogram child may already have the same medicine in syrup form as a spoonful. Some preparations are also more concentrated while others are dilute. Giving too much of the former may have adverse reactions while giving less of the latter will waste your money while you wait for the effects to kick in.
A pediatrician will know exactly how much to give, how frequent, and for how long. They may even recommend some good brands of medicine that you may not heard of yet. And of course, they know exactly how all medicines work and hence, they may be able to compare them and choose accordingly for your child, based on established guidelines.
So, are they safe to use without a prescriptions? Generally no, but children over 4 years of age may benefit from short-term use of over-the-counter products if, and only if, there is a clear diagnosis. Go visit your pediatrician first.